08.24.09

Feeding Brine Shrimp

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:38 pm by livefood


Subject: Questions about Grindal worms

on the brine shrimp what do they eat if your hacting them at home?
what kind of yeast do they eat?

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Christina,

Baby Brine Shrimp, like the adults, are filter feeders. Typically they with ingest just about anything (food and otherwise) that they can get into they “mouths”…so feeding is a matter of nutrition and particle size. Any nutritious food that is small enough is good. You can use any type of yeast. We get our as a food wholesaler in big blocks…it’s usually used for baking. Some baby foods will work also…sweet potato, strained peas etc. A little dab will do ya.

The huge problem is that they will be shedding (molting) through their lives (a couple of dozen times) and each time will foul the water with about ½ of their body mass. It’s a huge challenge to keep the water quality high enough (clean enough). Most folks don’t bother because of the systems that have to be put into the place and/or the labor that has to be put into the process.

In even the smallest of situations it is usually easier to hatch small quantities more frequently. We freeze the extra for the next day or a weekend day when we do not want to have to show up and spend the time for the feeding. Freezing extra is also good for those times when things don’t go all that well and you experience a crash in the process (it happens). In those situations when we find that we have a lot of frozen material accumulated we will break the whole system down and wash everything with bleach and dry.

Take care,
Jim
The Bug Farm

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08.17.09

Not All Answers Are What You Want To Hear

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:32 pm by livefood

To: questions@livefoodcultures.com
Subject: Questions about Microworms

I have an ongoing problem with free swimming algae/green water in my 55 gallon tank planted tank. I refuse to use any chemical and have done regular water changes, blackouts, etc. I was told to try daphnia to eat the algae and my fish would consume the daphnia. Is this crazy or realistic?

Kim

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Unrealistic in most cases. The fish will eat the daphnia faster than the daphnia can consume significant algae and reproduce. The is true in nearly all aquarium situations. Some people have place the daphnia in a small “breed basket” (these are old school fine meshed baskets still available in some fish stores) and use a cup to make sure they are getting enough green water within the net. I suppose you could put an open ended bubbler below the net (daphnia can be killed using fine mists of air). But in an open aquarium and exposed to fish, the daphnia would probably be consumed. You will rarely (never seen or heard of one) find significant daphnia populations in bodies of water which also contain fish.

Your algae is a biological situation and you can treat it that way. Cut back the number of fish for example while increasing the water changes (it takes a minimum of 50 percent A DAY) to maintain nutrient levels…any less and the nitrates (food for algae) increase. Usually it’s a combination of nitrates (sources usually the numbers and size of the fish or just plain over-feeding) and light. Cut those in half for a month and watch what happens.

Take care,
Jim
The Bug Farm

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08.10.09

Gut Loading Brine Shrimp

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:26 pm by livefood

Subject: Re: Baby Brine

Jim,

Since receiving this email from you, I had recommended to me - and purchased - a book by Mike Hellweg entitled, “Culturing Live Foods.” I know you’re an oldtimer in the hobby, but if you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. For feeding baby brine, Hellweg recommends a type of product called a “HUFA supplement.” That mean anything to you?

Back on “Liquifry,” which I’m having trouble finding, when I do, will it be obvious how much to add to, say, a gallon jar of hatched BBS?

Tom

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Tom,

To quote one of my white papers, “The nutritional quality of nematodes can be enhanced by the use of media enrichment or a bio-encapsulation technique. Enrichment is simply carried out by adding a fortification additive (vitamin premix for example) to the culture medium (referred to as direct enrichment). Rouse et al. (1992) used a culture medium which was fortified with a 10% fish oil emulsion, obtaining nematodes that had a significantly higher total lipid content and elevated levels of (n-3) HUFA.”

There are a number of dried fish foods on the market that are high in HUFA. Any of those would be a good supplement. The label probably would tell you that it’s “high in HUFA” of some such as it is a feature worth selling J. I have not heard of any product that was a direct HUFA supplement. It’s usually associated with fish, fish oil and products that come from those. Fish synthesize it I think. So to use the term “HUFA supplement” as if it were a product in itself may be misleading.

The Liquidfry would be used several times during the day. Remember those BBS have a short gut and are growing very rapidly. You would probably use several drops per gallon. It will of course depend a bit on the density of the culture. If I remember correctly, the product is made in England. Not readily available…and apologizing for not putting this in the last email, you can usually find it at “That Pet Place” in PA…mailordering is quick.

You could also use the same fish foods loaded with HUFA to mix into the food for a microworm culture.

Take care,
Jim
The Bug Farm

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08.03.09

Oatmeal and Yeast

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:14 pm by livefood

Instant Oatmeal, One Minute Oatmeal and regular Oatmeal are all the based on the same basic material…Rolled Oats. How it’s ground makes it “instant” or not. The finer the grind the more quickly it cooks.

Regular oatmeal is usually cheaper, so we used that for all of our in-house cultures. If you are making a lot of cultures you can buy rolled oats in bulk. We bought 50 lb. sacks from a bulk fook supplier. We bought 100 pounds at a time to save a bit on shipping. You might have a local source. All of our local stores were a little high end fancy smancy market places and I didn’t have the heart to tell them what we did with their precious health food.

The bakers yeast is easy to get in bulk from a bakery supply house, a restaurant supply house (like we did) or over the internet. But it’s baker’s yeast and not brewer’s yeast. In bulk it is a compressed brick-like packaging. We kept the block frozen and in a tightly sealed plastic jar. We removed a cup or so when ever we needed more and refrigerated the working portion.

For most uses, a big tube of Quaker Oats lasts “a lifetime” and a strip of instant yeast from the store will go a long way. I doesn’t take much yeast to start a microworm culture and less in a typical culture of fruitflies.

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07.27.09

A Threefer…Not A Good Thing

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:40 am by livefood

In my whiteworm container with thriving whiteworms there are tiny red bugs throughout the soil and little white jumping things. Can you tell me what they are and whether I needs to get rid of them. Should they be there?

Natasha

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Natasha,

It sounds as if you have two extra critters to deal with. One harmless and the other has the potential of being devastating to the whiteworm culture. First the good news. The little white hopping critters are most likely a species of Springtails. They are harmless to the culture, actually a good food for frogs, newts, fishes and some lizards, but they will not harm the whiteworm culture.

The bad news are those little red guys (and gals)…mites. They will eat the egg cases of the whiteworms and you will see the culture decline and eventually become rather useless for whiteworms. The mites will infest any culture that is soil based. If you are working with Grindal worms they will get to those sooner or later.

About the best way to get rid of them is to start a new culture with sterile soil and cleaned worms. You can clean the worms by putting a good number of them into a glass of water and stirring the worms and cultue…the worms sink along with some of the culture and the mites tend to float. If you start with less culture and more worms you will have an easier time of the cleaning…to start with more worms feed in one location and let the worms come to the food. If you use moist bread as the food, the bread will easily dissolve in the stirring process…repeat the cleaning until you can see that the worms are void of culture…the mites will be gone with eat cleaning…oh, I need to tell you…after the stir the worm mixture, let them settle a bit and then decant the water thus pouring the floating mites off with the water…and I do mean repeat.

Don’t bother using the old culture container…if has mite eggs…you could bleach it if you have an attachment to the container…but clean to the point of sterile is good. Bake or boil the soil for the culture…of course letting it cool before adding the worms back into the NEW soil.

Remember that mites attach themselves to everything…climb on everything…wash your hands before starting new processes…place the new culture in a different location…I can almost guarantee you that the mites are not all in the whiteworm culture…and those that are not will find the new one unless you move it to a new location.

They are the absolute worst problem we have ever encountered culturing foods.

Avoiding them in the future is important. We use mite paper under and over the cultures to keep them away. We also don’t keep all of our cultures in the same location. We also wash hands between harvesting of different cultures.

This may all sound like a pain, but in the end it’s worth it…whiteworms are a great food.

Don’t worry about the STs…no harm, no foul…but the little red critters have got to go.

Take care,

-Jim

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07.20.09

How Much Greenwater Do I Need?

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:24 am by livefood

Jim,
I have an 18 gallon storage tote made by rubbermaid. This is what I will culture my daphina in. I would like to get some green water, but I need a lot, so what should I do?
Thanks Brooks

Brooks,

A rough rule of thumb to follow regarding the amount of greenwater to support a healthy colony of daphnia is three to one. That is three gallons of greenwater to every gallon of daphnia. It seems to work pretty well except in situations (like mine) where the days become shorter in the fall causing the greenwater tanks outside to produce less or in those situations when the daphnia “bloom” because of temperature changes in the spring and early summer…in the first case there is not enough greenwater to go around because of lean greenwater and in the second there is not enough because of too much daphnia (like that should be a problem). In both cases we supplement the feedings (or use exclusively) a slurry or Gerber’s Sweet Potato baby food or Gerber’s Peas baby food and/or mixed with a small amount of yeast. In any combination the mixture should only create a very slight haze in the daphnia culture…a very small amount. We use approximately 1/2 of a “large” jar to feed 16 24 gallon cultures…so it’s not much per container. We just put the baby food in a large bottle (like a soda bottle), fill it with water and shake it a bit to throughly mix the stuff…very low tech but works very well.

In the beginning of your culturing you will probably experience lean greenwater cultures and probably should think about using the supplemental slurry feeding idea. It takes us about a week to a week and a half for a GW culture to get up to it’s full potential (relative for the time of the year and available sunlight and nutrients). Of course this is how long it takes us. In your location it could be different.

Out low tech greenwater producing system consists of a white (translucent) 50 gallon drum with the end cut off. It’s a tall 50 gallon aquarium with gold fish inside. We feed the goldfish old fish flakes and pellets…they love it all and make lots of fertilizer and the water goes green very quickly. The goldfish also eat all fo the mosquito larvae thay may have been in their tanks (I have never seen one in the tanks with the goldfish). We have 3 of these barrels for every two of our daphnia tanks. A 20 gallon tank of greenwater should support a daphnia culture in a 5 gallon tank or bucket. In your case, one of these 50 gallon drum would support the 18 gallon tub…no problem (except during blooms and the fall of course).

If you have questions along the way, please do not hesitate to ask them.

Take care,
- Jim

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07.13.09

Feeding Horses

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:20 am by livefood

Hi Jim .Actually , maybe you can help me with something .I am also looking for a source of salt water amphipods(gammarus shrimp) and I have tried for MONTHS to get them from Florida Aqua Farms , but keep getting the run around from them.I am feeding two six inch hungry horses that are trained onto frozen foods because they are captive bred but like live treats . Any ideas ? I will be mailing out your check today for the vinegar eels. Thanx again ,
sincerely ,
Lorraine

Lorraine,

There are only a couple of saltwater gammarus and they live in inter tidal zones. Not all that easy to breed as their needs are somewhat contrary to generally accepted fish keeping practices. It seems to be more difficult to get fish keepers to think “dirty” than one would think. All gammarus are detritivours…and if something isn’t dying in the tank, they don’t have much to eat. While they seem to be grazing on algae, they are probably eating the decaying material and leaving the fresh stuff behing. We feed ours “cichlid pellets” to make sure that they have enough to eat. FAF may only have the gammarus on a seasonal basis and/or a tide related availability kind of thing. We don’t work with saltwater varieties as we have other local options.


To your question…it seems from conversations that we have we other horse keepers, frozen is the primary food (like yours) and if they suppliment with anything it’s either brine shrimp (not all that nutritious on it’s own) or they use a freshwater critter and drop small amounts in front of the horses…mysis shrimp for example, young grass shrimp is another. The other option, which is common with clownfish folks is living near the ocean and collecting plankton on the tide…a common practice in our area. In 15 minutes you can collect a whole lot of plankton…but getting to a suitable collecting spot is the trick. I have yet to hear of gammarus in a plankton pull.

To the brine shrimp…easy to come by in most areas but nutritionally deficient UNLESS you “gut load” the critters with some food within several hours of feeding the horses. SELCO is a common gut load product and is great for the purpose (full of HUFAs in combination). A slurry of sweet potato or peas (from baby food by Gerber) can also work…the SELCO is probably superior for the purpose and a whole lot easier :-) There is a product called “Golden Pearls” which was designed in part as a shrimp feed…and it is also a good gut load product (rich in HUFAs etc). The gut loaded brine shrimp become a superlative food as opposed to non-gutloaded ones.

I know…a little more info than you wanted. Hope is gives you some options.

Take care,
Jim

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07.06.09

My Maggots Don’t Mature

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:12 am by livefood

“After a number of successful cultures during the summer, I made a batch of food, added flies, maggots developed as expected and climbed the walls and mesh, the maggots developed … and developed … and developed. No flies ever emerged. The culture died from lack of developing flies.

This has happened a couple of times.

??? Suggestions or explanation ???

(I actually have lost my culture of flies with this last crash - my fault for getting down to only one container developing. I will order more when I need a new culture. At the moment the frogs are all big enough to eat crickets. But I did want to understand what went wrong so I didn’t just repeat my error.) - Alan

Alan,

I have to think about the question a bit. It’s an odd situation. My first reaction was that you were dealing with flies which had become too old to be fertile (fruitflies are much more fertile and productive in the first half of their lifespan), but that can’t be the case because you speak of many maggots which seem to be doing maggotty things. You don’t mention pupae, are you getting the maggots to pupate or do they just continue to crawl around before dying?

It they are get stuck in the pupae stage you might be talking about too much moisture in the container…the pupae shell has to be fairly dry (hence the need to crawl away from the food) so the fly can emerge. A different closure system would solve that. We use sponge stopper which let a fair amount of moisture to escape.

If the maggots never pupate, I’m at a loss (not for words, obviously, just solutions).

Usually challenges fall into a couple of broad categories…catastrophic and other…catastrophic meaning everything dies in a very short period (a freeze for example). That is the easy one (usually) because you can look at a point in time and for events that triggered the event. The “other” is the slow route where you tend to have to look at many issues. Nutitional deficiencies can be an “other”, a few degrees too hot or too cold…where the flies (or maggots) will linger but not die all at once. In the other cases I usually look at the biology of the environment first (resulting in the moisture idea).

If you want to discuss this more, let me know. It’s an interesting problem.
The solution is probably very easy, once the cause is figured out of course.

Take care,

Jim

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06.27.09

Mite Contol

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:15 pm by livefood

I get at least one question a day, many of the same questions…sometimes new ones. Today I thought I would share some ideas on a pretty common problem. What can you do about mites in a Grindal worm culture. You can use the same concepts on whiteworms.

“…also I need a culture of grindal if you can tell me how to keep the mites out. I lost all my cultures mites this year.” - MsDevine

I hate mites. They are a difficult critter to get rid of. Fruitflies also get mites…and it’s a different species than the mites in the Grindal worms and whiteworms (and on and on with dirt dwelling critters).

The best we have come up with for the flies is to use “mite paper” under AND over the culture. Put the culture on a sheet of paper and lay a sheet of paper over the top of the culture. We use the mite paper to help prevent mites in worm cultures.

To rid a culture of mites is another story. The best method is to harvest as many worms as you can and rinse them in water repeatedly and start a new culture. The mites and their eggs float, the worms sink. So if you stir the worms in the water and wait until they sink and then decant the water, you should have an opportunity to rid the sample of most of the mites. Repeat this process until the sample is clean. Start a new culture with this clean batch of worms…in sterile soil.

In the absence of that, we have used a propane torch to scorch the top of the culture…that kills the majority of the mites (repeat several times the first day and then periodically)…surprisingly the worms are not damaged too much (we don’t feed for several days prior and the worms go deep).

Keeping a couple of cultures going in differenct locations also helps. Re-culturing on a regular basis (the harvest and rinse method of gathering starters) is a good policy. Also keeping houseplants away from the cultures seems to help.

We have found that very healthy cultures, those with almost “too many” worms (like that’s a problem? :-) don’t lend themselves to infestations as easily as sparsely populated cultures. It seems to be better to start with a smaller culture container for the starter and “crowd” the worms than to give the worms too much space in the beginning. It takes a while to build large cultures this way, but they seem to last longer between infestations. This observation be related to a competitive issue…the worms eating the bulk of the food quickly so as not to be attractive to mites.

Of course starting with sterile soil is always a good idea, but mites seem to find GW cultures fairly quickly.

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06.23.09

Cover Those Microworm Cultures.

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:31 am by livefood

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to the San Francisco Aquarium Society. I always talk “too long” but never get everything said that I could. When I got into the car to come back home I thought, “I forgot to tell them to use old nylon stockings.”

Fungus gnats and fruitflies create “interesting” challenges with microworm cultures. It’s not that the cultures stink, but they will attract fruitflies and gnats, especially during the warmer months…like now.

I usually punch a half dozen holes in the top of a culture lid. Well actually I burn the holes with a hot nail. But those holes, as small as they are still let the sneaking flies in…or at least let them lay the eggs to develop in the culture. Any way you look at it, the maggots in the cultures are bad news. The point of the MW culture is to raise food for small fish…and the maggots don’t fit into that category…they have to go.

So what I do it to cut about a foot off of the stocking end of a single leg of a pair of pantyhose and then slip the closed ended tube over the culture…no flies.

Because I’m frugal, I tie a knot in the panty hose leg that I just cut the toe end from and then cut another foot of so off for a second culture cover. I get four covers from a single pair of nylons OR two tubes for the shoebox sized cultures for Grindal worms (et al).

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